Archive for ‘Life in Korea’

March 12, 2012

Home. Away from home.

As much as you want to experience everything and absorb every ounce of your new host country, sometimes you just want to be home. Even if it is just for a weekend.

But the flight from Seoul to Toronto is 14 hours. Spending 28 hours in a plane for less than 20 hours at home isn’t feasible nor smart.

Enter the greatest invention on the planet: the American base.

Ok so you might be thinking: really? How can you betray and turn your back on your fellow Canadians. And to that, I have this to say:

As much as we hate to admit it, Canada is like America’s little brother. Sure when we’re home we don’t think much of each other. But on the other side of the planet? We’re from the same family. We connect on a level that only siblings can. We bond.

I may not be American. But Taco bell and Subway and Starbucks and People magazine and ouchless hair ties and menus in English spell home for me. That’s exactly what the American base in Daegu is like. That and more.

After 4 long months, I had taco bell for the first time. My fav order at taco bell –fries supreme, no beef, no beans, extra cheese and green onions with 4 packs of hot sauce and 4 packs of mild sauce- doesn’t exist in the American Taco Bell. Apparently, fries at Taco Bell is strictly a Canadian thing. That blew my mind. And made a pretty strong case for why Canadia may be the cooler brother. Just sayin ;)


Anyway, I ordered a quesadilla and was just happy to be eating non sweet bread with normal, stringy, yummy cheese.


And then we went shopping. I got so excited when I saw ENGLISH magazines, ENGLISH books, ENGLISH labels. ENGLISH everywhere. On everything. Ok. So I got a little more than excited.


And stocked up on toiletries. Things I didn’t think I’d see for a long time.


Macadamia nut cookies from Subway? And a tall latte sprinkled with a generous layer of cinnamon from Starbucks? Yes, please!


Ok, so Subways and Starbucks are all over Korea. But sitting in the one on base was different. Here’s why: although you’re drinking and eating the same stuff, the atmosphere in a Korean Starbucks is notably different. You are usually the only non-Korean. And while you might be thinking duh, you’re in Korea Einstein, like I said before, it’s just nice to feel like you’re home. Once in a while.

As I was sitting in my American Starbucks in Korea on an American base, I noticed this:


Even the sidewalks and pole things on the base is the same as back home! How awesome is that!?

But perhaps the thing that blew my mind/impressed me the most was the power outlets in my friend’s apartment. They were all North American! With two flat prongs instead of the two rounded prongs found in Korea.

She even had a normal North American washroom where the shower area is separate from the rest of the washroom. And therefore the whole washroom doesn’t get wet every time you shower.

Living in a foreign country with a foreign culture and people… where you’re notably foreigner, is fascinating. No two days are the same and you’re always learning, always excited about something new you just discovered.

But between it all, you miss home. You miss the little things. Like being able to understand menus and labels. The familiar taste of fastfood.  Being able to speak English without the oscar worthy acting performance.

And it’s nice to have somewhere you can go where it’s just like home. Away from home.

March 7, 2012

4 o’clock

For most of my life 4 o clock meant… Oprah show time!

Obviously there were detours here and there.

In elementary school, it meant end of track and field practice.
In high school, it meant end of detention.
In university, it meant nap time.
In my first job, it meant testing time.
In my second job, it meant half of my day was over.
In my third job, it meant meeting time.

And now. Now, it means this.


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March 5, 2012

I fried my laptop.

I read somewhere that it takes 30 days to develop a habit. So for the month of march, I made a few resolutions. March has 31 days, I thought I’d throw in that extra day for good measure. You know, be extra ambitious.

What are those resolutions you ask? Mostly an extension of my new year’s resolutions. (that have been an epic fail)
Floss. Yoga daily.
And some new ones:
Have a routine, wake up/go to bed at godly hours. Cook.

None of those have stuck.Except cooking.

And I really took that one far. Not only have I been frying pancakes and rice…

I even fried my laptop.

Ok so not the hot stove + fry-pan kinda frying.

Although, that would’ve been a cooler way to fry my laptop. I spilled grape juice on it (no, mom, that’s not code for wine. obviously.)

I googled remedies and placing the laptop in an air tight container with uncooked rice seemed to have the highest success rate. So that’s what my laptop is doing as I type this on my iPhone. Chilling in a dark room with rice.

And me? Well. I’m feeling what I think parents feel when their adult kids leave home. Empty nest syndrome.

1. I don’t know what to do with my new found free time.
2. My apartment feels empty. And quiet.
3. I feel useless. Like I have no purpose.

Ok so that last one may have been an exaggeration.

Anyway, I googled remedies for empty next syndrome and it gave me useless advice like plan ahead and get to know your spouse. Those don’t really apply in my case. How do you plan ahead for a grape juice spill or get to know your spouse in the case of a MacBook baby. Is your spouse apple in that case? If yes, did y’all know my hypothetical spouse became the 20th largest economy a couple days ago? Talk about a good catch.

I think I’m losing it. Crossing over to the weird side of blogging. I blame it on the Empty MacBook syndrome.

I’m going to go meditate. And find other (edible) things to fry.


In the meantime, here are some cool pics I took over the last month.

A cute little Italian restaurant in Daegu. The food sucked.



I found this mannequin/wood structure/art in a mall in Seoul. It looked so Oscar-ish. And beautiful. So I had to take a pic.


March is definitely my fav month for teaching material. Let me explain: so each month I work through a book with each of my classes. Some of them are on subjects I don’t find that interesting. But this month, four of my classes are on four of my fav cities: London, Paris, Montreal & New York. In that order. Most of you know my love affair with London. And this is the quote on the cover of the London book.


I couldn’t agree more.

February 7, 2012

7 Lessons my kids have taught me

“I hope you learn something from those kids.” -my mom

And you know what mom? I have. Here they are. Neatly organized into a list. Not only am I a kickass teacher, I’m also a pretty good student. Who takes notes. And then organizes them. And shares them with her friends. So here they are:

7 Lessons my kids have taught me over the 3 months I’ve taught them.

Side note: Today is my 3 month being-in-Daegu (and therefore teaching) anniversary!!!

1. Be kind- one person can make a difference. I was really really sick a couple of weeks ago but Kayla asked me to take one for the team because we were already short a teacher. Anyway, I went into class, assigned work, and put my head down on my desk. 30 seconds later I felt a tap on my shoulder. I look up and Jamie asks me if I’m ok. I tell her I’m not feeling well and before I can even protest, she walks behind my chair and starts massaging my shoulders. I was all “oh Jamie you really don’t have to do that” and then she goes “don’t worry teacher, I do this for my mom when she’s sick. This will make you feel better.” WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT? I love that kid. And she brightened my day in a way I can’t explain in words. And she was right… I did feel better.

2. Laugh til your stomach hurts. Do this at any time. For any reason. Do it by yourself. Or with a friend. Do it in a tree. Or just to be. In a box or with a fox. In a house or with a mouse… sorry for getting all Dr. Seuss on you there there. But you do get the point. Laugh! Be merry!

3. Be silly. Have fun. Don’t take life seriously.
I think the following picture pretty much sums it all up. I asked Caden to finish writing the date. And this is what he wrote: “Today is… your special day!!!”

4. . Experiment. Push the envelope. Define your own limits. So I have this one really adorable kid I teach. But of course he’s also the class clown aka trouble maker. And this kid will come into class everyday and find a way to annoy me until I yell at him. And then he’ll stop. It’s almost like he’s testing my limits everyday. And in the process, figuring out what he can and cannot do. Some days he gets away with a lot. And some days he doesn’t. But that doesn’t stop him from trying. every. single. day. This kid will go far in life.

5. Don’t hold grudges. That kid I talked about in #5. He does something bad. I yell at him. He stays mad at me for maybe 3 minutes. And then he’s all teach-ah! Look! At! My! New! Lego! Set!

6. Be generous. Share. Even if you have just one cookie left.

7. Tell those you love… that you love them. And here’s proof they love me:

I think as kids, we all know the secrets to life, to happiness. And in the process of growing up, we forget. So here’s me reminding you to go out and play, laugh, get in trouble. Life is too short to take seriously :)

January 8, 2012

2 Months, 2 Homes: Life. Is. Good.

Exactly 2 months ago today, I arrived in Daegu, South Korea.

I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting from this place. All I knew was that it was going to be new and exciting. And that’s usually enough to sell me on something.

And boy, what a ride it has been. From climbing mountains to my first Korean wedding to CSI Korea: the burgled apartment edition to Hello Kitty Cafe to becoming! a! blogger! to this-is-my-42nd-post!!! to making best friends to Pepero day to the most adorable children ever to eating lots of kimchi… And I could go on forever…

But if you’ve been reading my blog (or receiving annoying panic-y calls) not all of it has been so peachy.

I had my first I’m so done with this place and I need to bounce asap moment a couple of days ago.

I had just gotten back from a week in sunny Sri Lanka and Singapore with family and friends to cold, freezing Korea. And everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong in the span of 2 days.

Anyway, as I write this, I’m happy. I’m sitting in my warm, clean new apartment that has more or less consistent hot water (still not perfect but I can manage). NO balcony. Or windows big enough for any human being to climb through. I really can’t complain.

Life. Is. Good.

P.S. My new apartment has a shoe closet even bigger than the last one. I think the universe is trying to speak to me.

P.P.S. So Mr. Burglar guy took my little pouch of sd cards. And the sd to usb convertor thing I had in it. I have a mac which does not have a sd slot. So I kinda can’t upload pics from Sri Lanka until I get another one. I will get on it as soon as I do!

December 11, 2011

Hello Kitty Cafe

Hello Kitty was never my thing. I mean it’s a cartoon cat with a fat face. DON’T GET OUT THE TOMATOES JUST YET. Here me out. I have however always loved pink. Here’s proof:

Exhibit A: My dorm room at Walter Sickert Hall, London


Exhibit B: My room at East Central House, London


I was definitely always more of a Disney princess girl. (yuh think?!) BUT but. I may be becoming a convert. The decor of my future daughter’s room may  or may not have just changed from Disney to Hello Kitty. In a parallel/future universe.

And here’s how it happened. It all started innocently. You know a pink (hello kitty) trashcan… because there was no other pink option. A pair of pink hello kitty washroom slippers… pink hello kitty socks. You get the picture.

And then. Then Megan happened. She’s this beautiful, amazing (notice how it’s NOT awesome…thanks for the word sub suggestion Marcie!) girl from Atlanta.  And she randomly messages me one thurs afternoon asking if I wanted to get coffee at… wait for it… the Hello Kitty Cafe in Daegu. And I’m all ah I don’t know… and then I let my cool down and was like sure. Because I’m all about the spontaenous-ness. And I think she’s cool. Spontaneousness and coolness? I’m in.

And then I walked into this place. And. Fell. In. Love. No, really. I had the whole pitter -patter of the heart, that feeling of wholeness. And the clouds opening up to heaven. It was the equivalent of how I may have felt if I were to see, say, my knight in shining armour riding on a white horse through the storm. Ya, I’m dramatic like that. Here’s a short video I shot of all the cuteness.

Megan had a cappuccino and fudge brownie while I opted for the caramel latte + tiramisu combo. One word: deliciousness.


December 10, 2011

On Teaching: the good, the bad & the Adorable.

The most popular question I get asked is how I’m finding my new-completely-unrelated-to-my-education-and-previous-work-experiences job. (I sound as if there are thousands asking. There aren’t. Although I should take this opportunity to shift your attention to the right a bit. Blog stats. Read the number under it. Yup. In the thousands, baby. Booyah.)

**Disclaimer: It has only been 5 weeks since I’ve started teaching and I’m sure my thoughts and opinions will inevitably change down the road so I’ll revisit this question at exactly the half way point (and my birthday month)- i.e. April. Did not mean to throw out any hints or anything like that but it! was! a! total! coincidence! It just had to be mentioned. ;)

So how do I feel about teaching? To put it simply:

It feels natural.

And by that I mean there was no steep learning curve. (which I was expecting) The lesson plans are already done for me. There’s a teacher’s guide I can refer to. For everything else, I have a best friend called Google. My only responsibility is to cover the assigned material in the allotted time. And entertain the most adorable kids in the world. So all of this makes it really easy. And maybe I’m just a natural.  Hey! It’s a total  possibility!

So here’s the low down:

The Good

1. That look in the their eyes when they finally get it and the way their faces light up.

2. The love. The respect.  If children in the west respected their teachers/elders half as much as Korean kids do, the future of our world would be in good hands.

3. My boss. Before South Korea and this teaching gig, I worked for 3 companies. And my bosses at all 3? Female. They were awesome. All their names even started with A! Digest that for a second.

3 jobs. 3 female bosses. Amanda, Amanda, Anita.

Coincidence? I think not. I loved, admired and respected all of them in so many ways I can’t put it into words. To say I wanted to be JUST like them when I grew up would be an understatement. So when I found out my director was male I was a little nervous. I mean, I was moving to a new country, to a job in a completely different field and I was breaking my female-only-boss-streak. To top it all off, I didn’t even know if his name started with A! (I still don’t but that’s another story for another day)

And I worried unnecessarily because I’ve been so lucky. And I’m convinced that I have The Best Director one could possibly work for in all of South Korea.

4. My coworkers. I’m pretty sure all my cheesy farewell emails at my previous jobs started with this line:

you spend a third of your adult years at work so sometimes it’s more important to love the people you work with than your actual job.

and while it’s cheesy, it’s true. Sure there are always a couple of people you don’t exactly love, but in general, I’ve been pretty lucky in the coworker department in the past. And the present is no different. To say I adore these girls would be an understatement. I have unique relationships with all of them. And they show their love in different ways. Whether it’s googling training chopsticks and where to get them or writing Korean translations in my phone or browsing clothing websites and pointing out the dresses they think would look good on me or educating me about everything there is to know about the Korean culture… they’re so awesome in so many ways. And again, I feel so lucky.

I feel like this post has too many awesomes and luckys.

5. The hours: 2pm-8pm. Which in my world is A-awesome. With a capital A

I clearly need to expand my vocabulary to include words other than awesome. Fabulous, maybe? Fabulous it is.

REDO: The hours. 2pm-8pm. Which in my world is F-fabulous. With a capital F.

No, that doesn’t work. it sounds like I’m trying to be all passive aggressive with profanity with the whole “capital F” thing. I think it needs to be a word that starts with an A. Suggestions? Please help me.

Moving on…

The Bad

1. The Coffee addiction. I can feel it when we run out of coffee and I haven’t had my caffeine fix for the day. By that I mean I may or may not have fallen asleep. Eyes open. Standing up. On numerous occasions.

Teaching is fun. And easy. But it’s also tiring. And draining. You try delivering 50 min presentations every hour on the hour for 5 hours straight. All the while smiling and sounding enthusiastic. Sure, your audience may be boring men and women in suits compared to my adorable children in the cutest hello kitty ensembles, but it takes the same amount of energy. If not more. And whoever associated the red shiny apple with teachers clearly wasn’t a teacher. It should be a big cup of piping hot coffee. Or two. Or three…

2. It can get repetitive. The lessons themselves and the number of times you have to deliver them.

3. My mom’s dream was for me to be a doctor. That didn’t happen. Wanna know why? Because I get squeamish at the sight of blood. Like really squeamish. Like I’m the type that still turns away when the doctor takes a blood sample. Ya, that bad.

And kids… they’re always hurting themselves somehow. I had a girl who had a really bad nosebleed during one of my classes. I freaked. And then ran to get one of the other teachers. The other teacher was a natural. Knew exactly what to do and was calm the entire time. I was a little envious. Of her cool and collected demeanor. And then I got to thinking how terrible a mother I’m going to be. I need to marry a guy who isn’t afraid of blood. Or bugs. Or ghosts….Off topic! Sorry.

The Adorable
1. Their laughter. Its addictive. I guess this is what does it for me. And determines my fav age group to teach: the younger they are, the easier it is to make them laugh. The older ones who are bright and can understand English a bit more are also fun. Because they get my witty jokes. And think I’m extremely funny.

2. The endless gifts. of cookies. of chocolate. of pepero. of fresh warm baked sweet potato. I don’t even like sweet potato! But when it comes with all that love and “here teacher, this is for YOU” How does one say no?!

This list isn’t exhaustive. I wanted to convey a general idea of what it’s like to be a teacher in South Korea. And share my personal experiences thus far. Every teacher will have a different story to tell based on many different factors like their own personalities, the age of the kids they teach, their relationship with their director and co teachers, etc.

I know there are a few of you who are considering taking the leap and moving to Korea or <insert your country here>. To you, I say this: DO IT. I’m only 5 weeks in, and I can already say this has been one of my craziest yet smartest decisions to date.

December 9, 2011

Baby Blankets: the edible kind & the wearable kind

Our director is all about stocking up the teacher’s kitchen with lots of goodies. Like the other day, we had these bun things stuffed with vegetables. No I’m not the kind of girl who gets excited about buns. Or vegetables. And this stuff doesn’t even look appetizing.
But what I ALL ABOUT about is microwaveable stuff. Especially yummy microwaveable stuff. This bun Is the mostest softest thing you’ll ever eat. Its like an edible baby blanket.  I know that probably created some weird imagery in your mind. But I don’t know how else to describe it. If you haven’t realized already, my vocabulary isn’t that extensive. Or scholar-like. My point is, this stuff is delicious. Which brings me to my next point…

I feel like family here. So our director used to get pork/beef stuff for the other teachers… until they realized they clearly picked the fussiest eater on earth to add to the team (i.e me). So the logical thing to do would be to buy meat stuff for the other teachers… and vege stuff for me, right? Wrong. The other teachers eat vege too. (like with that bun stuffed with vegetables instance)

Just when I thought it was just my director being all accommodating, Kayla has also jumped on the bandwagon. Pretty much everything we have during school hours is Tia-atarian. And I feel bad. And I’m sure there will come a point where they’ll be like forget Tia and her fussiness. But until then? Until then, I’m gonna bask in all this LOVE.

Speaking of love, Kayla told us about this really fuzzy and soft cardigan that she had found.  That was a Saturday. Tuesday most of the teachers had one, each in a different colour. And last week? Last week I got mine. It actually does feel like a baby blanket… and its SO warm. and SO soft.
I feel like they’ve officially initiated me into their inner circle. That’s riiiiiiiiight guys. I’m one of them now. OFFICIALLY.
Do the happy dance.
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December 8, 2011

Love, Bunkers & Childhood Memories

Childhood memories are special. Not because they are innocent. But because of the way in which they are engrained in our memory: innocently.

I have two memories before the age of 3. Both are as vivid as yesterday. The first is of my paternal grandmother’s house. The yellow walls. The oversized verandah. The huge papaya tree.

And the second is of our family bunker. Yes, bunker. I was born in Tellepallai, Jaffna in 1986 and lived there until I was 4. The war that plagued the country for 16 years from 1983 to 2009 was in full swing during my formative years. So bunkers in my toddler neighbourhood were as common as… little blue bins today.

The bunker doesn’t foster memories of war or soliders or bloodshed. Instead the bunker and its smell remind of me of love, of family, of laughter and of togetherness.

And my washroom here in Korea? It smells** like a bunker. I’m not reminded of the war or helicopters circling overhead… or the sounsd of bombs dropping. Instead, I’m reminded of my family, of laughter, of love… and of being together.

Yes, homesickness is in full swing. Because of my washroom. That smells like a bunker. Go figure.

**The smell of a bunker, to me (and the way I remember it) is this really strong earthy smell. I love it almost as much as I love the smell of gasoline. Maybe a tad bit more. It’s one of those smells you either hate or love. Or learn to love. And why does my washroom smell like contained earth? I’m guessing it’s because it’s not insulated. And it’s made of stone and bamboo. I may or may not have made all that up. Or made an educated guess. I have an undergrad and half of an MBA. You decide how educated that is.

December 8, 2011

The Simple Things

Tonight, I’m reminded that the simplest is often the most important.

  1. Finalllllllly a table to blogeatfacebook on. And it’s pink!
  2. Hello Kitty training Chopsticks. Yes, they’re made for kids. Go on, judge me.
  3. Music to remind me of home. Byebye Miss.Homesick. Helloooo Mr.Kiss 92.5.


Oh and that hand washing I was bragging about?

  1. Clothes are still in buckets.
  2. Mission Hand-washing has been aborted.
  3. Mission Find-laundromat and Mission Get-new-washing-machine are underway.
December 6, 2011

Struggles Dot Com… Part 1

My washing machine doesn’t work. Let me repeat that. You know that machine in your house that does all your dirty work? That! It.doesn’ Magnitude of my situation sink in yet? Good.

So after praying and hoping and praying some more, I decided to man-up (or woman-up depending on which era you’d like to refer to- yes, in Tia’s world there is an era in which men do the cleaning and cooking. THE ONE WE LIVE IN! I kid. Sorta kinda sorta.)

Anyway, I walked over to homeplus this morning and got 2 big washing buckets. To hand.wash. ALL. MY. CLOTHES.

I haven’t exactly gotten to the washing part. I filled up the buckets with detergent and hot water and left them to soak for 5 hours (while I was at school) and now I’m gonna go tackle this mission. I’ll let you know go that part goes. You know, the actual handwashing part. But in the meantime…

I feel way pioneer-ish.

I mean, I have two full buckets. of clothes. with water and detergent. in my washroom.

I might just start churning my own butter or baking my own scones… with my 39 children. What 39 children you ask? The Korean ones I’m going to adopt before I come home. (my mom is on a plane right now with hopefully no access to my blog. or the internet… I can say whatever I want with no disclaimers. OH! THE! FREEDOM!)

But I have a feeling she’d be proud of my pioneer ways.

In other news: one of my dreams came true today. Well, sorta.

Dream: to be cast on Sailormoon.

Dream sorta coming true: student drew my avatar today. Isn’t she just SMASHING?! And she’d totally fit in on Sailormoon.

December 2, 2011

2 Plates of Randomsauce: Living Life in the Fast Lane

Someone once told me that life should be lived in the fast lane. Oh wait. I think that was my own thoughts talking to each other. Don’t yours do that? No? Only mine? Oh.

So teaching English in Korea to kids may not exactly be living life in the fast lane.

It may be the equivalent to driving a Prius. In the fast lane.


And that leads us to another… Plate of Randomsauce!

GUESS WHAT I FINALLY FOUND!! It’s not the swiffer sweeper I know and love, but this will do just fine for the other side of the world. I’ve never been so happy to see an aisle of cleaning products. Ok. Who am I kidding. Cool cleaning products always excite me. Like the shake-and-vac! If you know what that is, major cool points on the cool-o-meter for you!

So this is the name of the Academy I work for. After 3 weeks, I finally found out what the G and B stand for! Hint: the logo gives it away. Isn’t that the cutest thing ever!?

And here’s a pic of some of my new awesome friends taken at Thursday Party in downtown Daegu.

December 2, 2011

And they do it with so much Adorable.

From spending the day with kids to hanging out with my Korean teachers (some of whom have kids a few years younger than me) to partying into the night with other foreign teachers who are mostly in their 20s, I’ve learned this: we’re all pretty much the same. And we all want the same things: to be heard and to be loved.

I’ve learned that you can make a connection regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or culture That all you need to do is look for the similarities and love the differences. That keeping an open mind means understanding who you are is constantly changing. And that staying true to who you are doesn’t necessarily mean drawing lines and keeping yourself locked in.

I’m reminded to play. During every minute of my work day. I’m reminded to laugh and be silly. I’m reminded that life is lived in the in-between moments. Those moments in-between the question and the answer.

And I’m beginning to learn to accept every moment as it unfolds and not question, expect or want anything else. Yup, these kids  are teaching me more about life than I could ever teach them. And they do it with so much adorable.
December 1, 2011

Peace Signs, Raspberry Wine & Girl Talk

We bonded over seafood stew and raspberry black wine, Victoria’s Secret and Brad Pitt, Korean words and their English translations (thanks to Naver). And if there’s one thing I learned that night, it’s this: girl talk is the same everywhere. If it wasn’t for the restaurant buzzer on the table or the Korean music blasting through the speakers, I might’ve mistaken the dinner for one with my girlfriends. At home.

I work with a bunch of awesome girls who’ve welcomed me into their little circle with open arms and have made me feel so at home. We went out for dinner and drinks. AND started the night off in style…

Peace signs, beer and seafood stew

And this was my absolute fav dish. Cajun chicken salad with kiwi sauce.

And then we decided to head on over to this place for drinks:

Ordered some dried fish (they actually weren’t that bad!) and yes, that’s Kayla cutting the fish with scissors. That’s totally normal here!

And no night is complete without a kiwi soju appearance!

Cheers to GIRL TALK and a great girls’ night out :)

November 30, 2011

Reasons Korea and I were meant to be… Part 3

1. You know that awkward moment in the restaurant when you’re on a date trying to impress the lady… she changed her mind and now wants a martini just as the waiter walks away. (I may or may not have been that lady… on numerous occasions)

And now you need to flag down the waiter. And you try. And you fail. Miserably. Like you look like you’re trying to land an airplane? Well. I present to you the Korean restaurant buzzer.

They have these at EVERY restaurant and they work like a charm. Press button. Wait 1.78 seconds. Waiter appears. It’s like maaaaaagic. And your airplane flagging days? Over.

2. If it isn’t apparent by all my other blog posts, let me make it official by including it here: I LOVE Korean food. the way to Tia’s heart? through her stomach. no doubt. And Korea’s got it down pat. Whoever said it’s difficult to be vegetarian/pescatarian/chickenatarian in Korea clearly never tried. It’s possible. And delicious.

Here’s evidence.The most heavenly thing on earth. (remember when I said that cake is getting a second date? I keep my word.)
The cake comes with a knife. Korea thinks of EVERYTHING.
Lady at Paris Baguette also asked me if I wanted candles. I should’ve said yes because then she and the other lady proceeded to have a conversation in Korean that probably went like this “she’s buying a WHOLE cake for herself!?”
Andddd I’ve fallen in love with Korean street food. Can you say. FRIED. STUFFED. GREEN. PEPPER?
3. How am I ever going to leave this place? It’s going to break my heart. I just know it. (I know that wasn’t really a reason. Stop judging me. I like it when things come in three.)
November 29, 2011

Veni. Vidi. Vici.

With a title like that… you know this is going to be a looooooong post.

I’m the let’s-take-the-easy-way kinda girl. Because life is short. And if something can be done in less time and with less effort, then uh… why struggle? (I struggle anyway but that’s another story for another post.)

So I lovelovelove pretty views. I mean, I live for views. You know the kind that take your breath away? Those. Whether it’s from the top of the CN Tower or the Eiffel Tower or <insert your fav tall structure here> or… mountain tops.

But see, there is a slight technical difference between a man-made tall structure and… a mountain. They’re called elevators/escalators/lifts/flying glass cubes. Whatever you like to call them- I like them to come packaged with my pretty view. Like French fries with ketchup. Or samosas with chutney. Or crunchy apples with peanut butter. One without the other should never be!

So I brought 5 pairs of shoes with me to Korea: 4 heels and a pair of black flat boots. I figured the only kind of working-out I’d be doing is yoga so why pack runners?! But Korea is on a mission to change me. And I’ve gotta admit- she’s been showing some pretty solid game so far. Here’s the foot gear I wore for this view-finding-journey:

They were probably made for driving to, and walking around… in a mall. And to say I had a couple OMG-I’m-gonna-die-moments would be an understatement.

So the journey started with this pretty Jetsons-meets-nature path (doesn’t it look all futuristic!?)

Which led us to this beautiful pond/lake…  it felt all calm and serene and peaceful-esque. We went over to the edge and watched the fishies do their thing.

And then I made a friend. Isn’t she just precious?!

Then we passed this mountain of rocks. If I wasn’t with the most awesome 1/2-Korean-1/2-german-American I know, I would’ve thought it was one of those things Koreans just do. You know, pile rocks up in random spots on the mountain. Totally logical explanation. Only in my head. Like most other things. I digress.

So Noel told me to pick up a rock nearby. A ROCK TIA – not a clump of mud. I think he called it a tarp? terp? turd? Turd. And then you’re supposed to make a wish. And put it on the top. Here’s mine:

And then. AND THEN. the most random sight. EVER.

That’s right. A gym. On a mountain. In the open air. It’s like oh-hey-I’m-not-already-getting-the-workout-of-life-let’s-stop-and-REALLY-workout.

So this is probably where I should mention that Noel is a boxer. So is Sherif. And Jade? She climbs the mountain approx 3 times a week. No biggie. uhhh. NOW DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHY I STRUGGLED SO MUCH. You would’ve too. It took “us” 2 hours to climb up and down. And by “us” I really mean me. If I wasn’t there, it would’ve probably taken the 3 of them, oh I don’t know… 27 mins? In total.

To the left of that gym, is this cute washroom.

And then we reached the top. (The I climbed the CN Tower in 27:13 tshirt I’m wearing in that picture? Total coincidence. I didn’t plan that AT ALL. And if you were wondering when I did that cray-zee thing… it was when I worked for HP and and they did a fund-raising climb in partnership with WWF- World Wildlife Fund. Like I said before, I’m an elevator/escalator kind of girl usually.)

And here’s a plaque we found on the way to check out the helipad.

And here’s the helipad.

And the rest is a blur because I was so hungry and my legs felt like mashed potatoes.

Until of course my new friends took me to the most awesome-est restaurant ever: Seoga & Cook. (Every restaurant I’ve been to so far has been awesome. More awesome-r than the one before. That’s what life is like in Korea. It just gets more awesome by the minute.)

Then the food came and I forgot to take a pic before we devoured it. So here’s a collage of a half eaten plate and a pic of the pic of the full plate on the menu.

And like with every night in korea, the night just doesn’t end until you’ve had a little kiwi-soju-lovin’.

Mountain climbing. Wishing on a Rock. Gym. On said Mountain. Awesome food. And a little Soju. All in a day’s work.

Veni. Vidi. Vici.

November 26, 2011

Ninjas, Chanel & Having this Moment for Life

This is going to be a quick post… because, well, I have really important saturday things to do. LIKE SHOPPING! (Mission find-a-swiffer-sweeper is still very much incomplete)

And and if this post had a soundtrack, this would be it:

I wish that I could have this moment for lifeeeeeeeee.

Last night I went into downtown Daegu for the first time. And here’s me living life on the edge. On a normal day, I struggle crossing the street. But crossing it. taking a picture. with a car coming at me. and CENTERING the car!? You might as well just go ahead and call me SUPER TIA now. I’m not gonna lie. I’m pretty impressed with my skills. Maybe I’m becoming a Ninja. You know, like, being all smooth and sneaky and skilled and stuff? No? ok.

So downtown Daegu is like one of those street style blogs come to life. Every. single. girl. was impeccably dressed. I’m all about Chanel quotes like…

“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.”

“I don’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little – if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that’s the day she has a date with destiny. And it’s best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.”

And Daegu girls? They’ve got this Chanel business down pat. (pun intended)

When I learn a bit of Korean (so I don’t look like a creeper trying to take pics of random girls) I’ll go into town and take pics of some of these girls and their amazing outfits so y’all can see what I mean.

P.S. I’ve tried a lot of new authentic Korean food in the past few days but editing the pics to make the food look yummier than it did in real life takes a bit of time… so hopefully I’ll be able to post in the next couple days :) PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE MY DEARS.


November 23, 2011

1 Plate of Randomsauce

I was feeling all scholarly so I decided to coin a phrase. Plate of Randomsauce. For one, it sounds yummy…AND it fits the purpose of this post- a collection of random thoughts. So, not only am I coining a phrase with this post, I’m also starting a post series. “X Plate(s) of Randomsauce” Told you I was feeling scholarly- scholars are way ambitious.

So now that that’s out of the way… we can move on to more important things. Like. Tube Coffee.

I come from the land of Tim Hortons and the continent of Starbucks. But coffee never really got me excited. I mean, sure, I’d occasionally have a latte but it was never something I needed. Cut Tia from the Toronto doc. Paste Tia in the Korea doc. And all of a sudden, I can’t live without this stuff.  I’ve been having 3 cups… approx every 2 hours. And AND the cup says “maximize your happiness” So I figure I’m hitting two mangoes with one stone. Totally justified. And mangoes are delicious.

Moving right along, I know this has already been plastered all over my fb… but I want to do a blog-official-shout-out and CONGRATS to my bestest of Bests: MANJOT on passing his black belt. That’s right, virtual internet peeps. Don’t mess. I got legit-real-life backup.

Here’s a picture taken at his grading looking all Leo-in-the-departed meets Bruce-Lee-ish. I have no idea what I just described but I wanted it to sound gangsta.

It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside because for as long as I’ve known Manjot, getting his black belt has been a dream of his. And witnessing a best friend achieve his dream? Priceless.

Speaking of dreams, I recently caught up with a high school friend who’s getting hitched next year (knowing my obsession with weddings as conveyed in my previous post, I don’t need to tell you what the main topic of discussion was) but he did have this to say:

So ok. Maybe my feeling all scholarly had something to do with hearing Varunan’s dream. And maybe…just maybe, my book will be called A Plate of Randomsauce. Bam. Two mangoes, One stone. I’m on a roll today.

And just one more dallop of randomsauce: besides feeling scholarly, I’ve also been feeling pretty worldly recently. Here’s why:

If you don’t understand what this means, clearly you’re not worldly. Or scholarly. Booyah.

November 20, 2011

My (first) Short, Sweet Korean Wedding!

Let’s start this post with a… !   !

Ya. Uh. I saw this shop on the drive to the wedding. And the 11 year old inside me giggled then prompted me to take a pic. Blame it on the ah ah ah eleven-year-old!

My awesome awesome director got hitched on Saturday- my FIRST short sweet Korean wedding. Get it? It’s a play on “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” No? Doesn’t work? Ok… moving right along.

So Korean weddings are really short. The ceremony lasts about half an hour and then everyone eats. Did I mention that watching the ceremony is optional? As in, you can walk in… greet the groom/groom’s parents. Walk over to the bride’s room. Say what up And then peace out. To the buffet. Like. SERIOUSLY?! And that’s what most guests did. People would also get up and leave. Talk. Walk around. WHILE THE BRIDE AND GROOM WERE EXCHANGING VOWS!

I heart Korean weddings. Only as a guest though. I’d feel gypped as the bride. I mean if I’ve been waiting for this day my whole life. And running around like Bridezilla in the months leading up to the wedding then I better get (at least) a WHOLE day of undivided attention. And not a moment less.

Traditional Hindu Tamil weddings last a day… but recently the trend has been to borrow additional events from our Hindu friends up north like the mehendi. This is also one of the reasons I secretly hope to have a Gujarati or Punjabi wedding. These weddings last up to a week! (and come pre-packaged with days and days of undivided attention) Like hellllllooooooooo, where do I sign up! And uh Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m totally kidding. OBVIOUSLY.

Sorry, let’s get back to the wedding I went to and not my own hypothetical wedding…

Here is a pic of all the lovely ladies I work with (there’s a few more who couldn’t make it) What’s that? Is there anyone you know? Of course there is! Kayla is standing to the far left. I think she’s the only one I’ve written about so far… but the others are just as lovely. LOVE them all :)

So like I said before, you walk in and greet the groom and his parents. Here’s a pic of my director and his parents at the entrance to the hall. His mom is wearing the traditional Korean dress: a hanbok.

You also go and check out the bride. She sits in a room on the other side with a photographer ready to snap pictures of her and the guests. (It’s kinda like the brown wedding group photo op post wedding. Only difference being the koreans do it pre wedding and don’t invite the groom to this party.) We passed on that one, the photo op I mean. Because, well… we didn’t really know her. She looked gorgeous and I absolutely loved her dress. Especially the back of it.

Here’s a pic:

Next up… the ceremony starts and this part is like most church weddings in the West. Although, there are no flower girls or bridesmaids. And it’s not in a church.

AND this part really bugged me: the bride doesn’t get a grand entrance. Let me explain. So in this pic the groom is standing right in front of her. He walks down the aisle, bows and then takes his place at the front. (as opposed to the groom waiting at the front before the bride even enters the room) THEN she just walks down the aisle with her father. There is no opening of doors or a grand revelation. Or anything like that. I would’ve been like REDO please. As in just pretend you didn’t see me and let me walk in again. I digress. Again. Sorry!

Here’s a pic of them making it officially official. Doesn’t she look like a fairytale princess right out of Disney?!

I don’t have any pics of the bride or groom from the front – only videos. And I have no idea how to upload videos yet. So when I figure that out, I’ll update this post :)

Then. It’s time to EAT. (granted, most people were already eating as the bride and groom were making it officially official) But Kayla and I stayed til the end. We walked over to the hotel restaurant and this was the view (if you look closely you can see mountains!)

The buffet consisted of a variety of korean food – everything looked and smelled absolutely delicious!

But of course everything was either pork or beef and I wasn’t up to the challenge of eating raw seafood so I stuck to veggies. I had kimbap, kimchi, tofu, soup and noodles. It was SO good. I was so full I didn’t even go to the dessert table. Ya. You read that right. This is why I always say: Eat Dessert First!

And that was it. To be a little sentimental for a moment, (hey, I just witnessed two people commit themselves to each other…and sure I didn’t understand a word but that’s beyond the point. wedding = free pass to be emo) I just want to say that I’m so glad my first korean wedding was my director’s. He’s honestly one of the nicest people I’ve ever met and I wish him and his new wife all the happiness in the world. <3

After the wedding the other teachers and I decided to drive back to Chilgok and hang out for a bit. We went to this cute little coffee shop with the cutest name:

Andddddd here’s random photo of the day. I call it… I whip my hair back and forth.

November 20, 2011

Reasons Korea and I were meant to be… Part 2

1. I only believe in well behaved obedient children. Those are the only kind that seem to exist in Korea. They call you teacher, bow to greet, and never speak back to you. The fact that they’re also ridiculously adorable never hurts either.

2. 24 hours everything. Moving from Toronto to London was painful. I mean don’t get me wrong, I fell in love with London. But that’s another story for another day. The ONE thing that upset me about the city, though, is that nothing is open past 8. Oxford st shuts down at 8. How random is that!? It’s like oh hey we’re gonna tease you be all cool and stay open past 6 but not 9. Oh no. That would be ridiculous!

And if you wanted food in the middle of the night, you had to go to tinseltown. Again, LOVE the place but it’s not everyday that you want a thick chocolate-y milkshake. Wait. Did I just say that. All this kimchi must be getting to my head. But the point is, Korea is my seoulsister when it comes to this. (clever word play, no? I’m going to pretend I made that up and take credit for it.)

24 hours is how life should be lived. And sleep is so overrated. Especially when you get this sudden urge to clean at 3am and you’re out of cleaning supplies.

3. They pick up garbage everyday. No waiting for your weekly neighbourhood garbage pick up day while upping the funk smell factor in your garage. How AWESOME is that!?

4. In Korea, I’m a millionaire. Sure, a bottle of water costs 1250 won. But my bank account? In the millions, baby.

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